This trip starts in the Indian capital of Delhi. We first explore Delhi, from its clustered streets to its famous markets and its grand monuments. Delhi's medieval charm post the Mughals remains intact and at the same time its modern identity as the National capital is emerging. There are two Delhi's in one. Both the old city and the new city are equally fascinating and have their own stories and culture to share.
This day is dedicated to exploring Delhi's rich history through its various monuments that stand tall today. We begin with one of the most magnificent mosques in India, Jama Masjid. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan, this mosque spells the Mughal taste for architecture and is still used as an important place for worship for Muslims, especially on Fridays. This is followed by a rickshaw ride into the streets of Delhi. We also walk around the Old City a bit, just to absorb the local vibe. Later we continue to other significant monuments such as Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar and drive past Lutyens’ Delhi that houses important Government buildings.
From Delhi we head to Agra, where we see the splendid monument that is counted as one of the seven wonders of the world- The Taj Mahal. This monument symbolic of eternal love and beauty stands tall on the banks of the Yamuna River. Listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites, this monument projects ethereal beauty that draws millions of tourists near it for years. Built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, it is considered to be the epitome of Mughal architecture, drawing inspiration from various schools of Islamic architecture.
We leave for Bharatpur after this.
We begin cycling in the morning and arrive at the richest, well-protected wildlife zones in India- The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or the Keoladeo National Park as it is known today. It is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 360 species of birds and provides the largest nestling ground for birds in the country. This area is well-protected wetland and is a world heritage site and one of the most popular national parks in the country. We spend some time here and then ride to Karauli.
This small princely town dates back its history to the 11th century. We loop ride with picnic lunch around Kaila Devi National Park, a part of the Project Tiger and buffer zone to Ranthambore National Park. Named after the famous Kaila Devi temple situated here, the national park is a dense forested area with gorges. A unique mix of animals is found here including the Chinkara, Sambar, Hyena, Wild Bore etc. In the evening, we will explore the 500-year-old Karauli city palace full of frescos, fine stone carvings and paintings. This palace built in the 13th century by the Royal family; it still remains as their official residence and one of the most majestic structures of Karauli.
We cycle through stunning countryside dotted with small villages to Ranthambore National Park famous for its tigers and one of the best places in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild. One of the largest National Parks in the country, Ranthambore is an adventure of its own. Apart from sighting the Tiger, which is the best aspect of the park, you can also come close to seeing various other species of flora and fauna. Early in the morning we go for a jeep safari inside the National Park in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the elusive tiger and other wildlife of the park. Riding in open jeeps with a Naturalist, the safari lasts for 3-4 hours. In the afternoon we cycle in the periphery of the Reserve forest.
Inhabited by local tribes, this princely town is a guided stop for anyone who wants to come closer to the history and culture of this place. We part drive / cycle to Bundi through beautiful villages and Aravali hills. In the evening walk up the majestic Bundi fort using stone steps and ramps which were built for horsemen and chariots. Adorned with narrow lanes and blue lakes, this little town reminds of the past glory of Rajasthan. Bundi doesn't attract a lot of crowd like Udaipur and Jaipur does, it is a haven for adventurists and explorers to capture the true spirit of Rajasthan.
We part drive and cycle to Pushkar, a lakeside town with many temples and bathing Ghats where throughout the year the devotees can be seen ritual bathing. Home to the world famous Pushkar fair that brings thousands of tourists here every year and is a speck of culture, art and local handicrafts, Pushkar's rich local culture is very evident. Located in Ajmer, Pushkar is one of the five important pilgrimage places for the Hindus. It is one of the oldest cities in India and has a lot of temples, the most important one being The Brahma Temple. It also has the lovely Pushkar Lake.
We take our last journey on the bicycle to the capital and the largest city of Rajasthan- Jaipur. Jaipur is known as the 'pink city' because of the pink paint applied to the buildings in its old walled city. Jaipur is steeped in history and culture and the past comes alive here in magnificent forts and palaces. The capital has a desert charm to it and at the same time has aspects of modern day commercialization. A walk around Jaipur is not only scenic but also gives you a view of how this city has adapted to the present times.
This day is dedicated to exploring certain elements of Jaipur that highlight the city's history and culture. The Amer Fort is a principle tourist attraction here and with good reason. Built by Raja Man Singh I, this fort is symbolic of Hindu and Rajputana architecture. This massive fort consists various extravagant courtyards and gates. Other attractions that we visit in Jaipur include City Palace, Jantar Mantar (medieval observatory) and drive past Hawa Mahal (palace of winds).